I am on my annual pilgrimage to the Chicago area to visit family over the holidays. The day after I arrived, freezing rain coated everything with ice, creating dangerously slick driving conditions. The following day, more freezing rain was followed by eight inches of snow. Since then, it has snowed almost every day and the temperature has barely climbed above ten degrees. Although I don’t venture out much in this kind of weather, I managed to brave the horrid conditions one rare sunny day to take photos. Frost and ice had coated the naked tree trunks and tall grasses, transforming barren forests into a fairyland. Despite my double-lined winter coat, knit cap, hood, boots and gloves, I just about froze to death. I swear the metal earpieces of my glasses froze to my cheekbones.

Winter fog coats the trees and obscures a country road

Beautiful ice-and frost-coated trees

I was feeling pretty proud of myself for enduring the elements until happening upon these teens jumping around on the rocks at the edge of the Illinois River, wearing only lightweight jackets, and I began to question whether I really was just a wuss about cold weather.

By the time I had snapped a few photos of these three frolicking along the shores of the Illinois River, my hands were frozen, yet two of them weren’t even wearing hats!

Still, even my sisters are complaining about the winter this year, something that I can’t recall happening in previous years. One of them sent me the following poem, which perfectly expresses my sentiments about Chicago winters:

It’s winter in Illinois
And the gentle breezes blow
Seventy miles an hour
At thirty-five below.

Oh, how I love Illinois
When the snow’s up to your butt
You take a breath of winter
And your nose gets frozen shut .

Yes, the weather here is wonderful
So I guess I’ll hang around
I could never leave Illinois
Cuz I’m frozen to the ground!

Author unknown

Perhaps I’m not such a sissy after all. Normally, I would be looking forward to heading south, but from the weather reports, it seems the south is not much better off than Chicago. Wonder what happened to global warming?